Bike to Work – Lessons Learned

Weekly Update – #16 – June 2nd, 2019

This is a weekly blog where I share updates and document my journey. I focus on four areas: fitness, reading, writing and thinking. In the past, for the fitness category, I have written mostly about running. I am beginning to focus on cycling this week. After a month-and-half of talking about it, I rode my bike to work, finally!

It’s my bike! with a little New Belgium Brewing plaque.

Fitness

This week I had a great conversation with a coworker about preparing for a half marathon. I’m no expert, but I wanted to share some of the ideas with you.

Q: How long did it take you to prepare for the half marathon?

A: It took me 4 months to ramp up to half marathon distance. In training before the race I ran a maximum of 11 miles. This was a mistake, because mile 12 and 13 were the most challenging 2 miles of the whole race. Lesson learned: train the full distance.

Q: Do you have any other advice for someone considering training for a half marathon or a marathon?

A: Talk to your family early. Carving out a few hours per week for training means taking time from somewhere else. You family is your support team and they may need to do extra work to support you. Be up front about the time commitment, and look for ways to get everyone involved. They will meet you at the finish line!

Back on the Bike!

It’s been over a year since I last sat in the saddle. I talked about biking to work for over a month, and other stuff kept getting in the way. This week I finally hopped on my bike! There were some hiccups (as expected) which turned the 90-minute ride into a learning experiences.

When I ran to work I travelled very light. I was able to do this leaving my laptop and my gym bag under my desk. It just required some extra planning ahead. On a bicycle you have the luxury of storage! So you pack everything up and jump on the bike in the spur of the moment.

Getting Ready

I have 2 Nashbar saddle bags that clip on to the back of my bike. I filled one with clothes, towel, and other essentials. In the other bag I shoved in my whole laptop bag. I did this because I was worried about damaging the laptop, and wanted extra protection. This added a lot of extra weight. I think a better strategy is to wear a backpack or leave the laptop at the office the night before.

The Ride

I rode my usual running route. For the first 5 miles I was fighting traffic lights and rush-hour traffic. I think for next time I will seek out a more bike-friendly road (with a bike lane). Some drivers just get too close for comfort.

The last 12-ish miles were sublime. I was right on the beach from Manhattan Beach to Marina Del Rey. And from the marina to the office it’s along a dedicated bike path.

What Went Wrong and What I Learned

Several learning opportunities arose from this trip. I’ll go into more detail below. First, here’s a short list of what went wrong:

  1. Rush hour traffic and no bike lane
  2. Saddle bag fell off
  3. Unintentional braking
  4. Forgot to turn on fitness tracker
  5. Forgot to pack shower shoes

The first five miles of my route were packed with traffic lights and heavy traffic. I can experiment a bit here to look for an alternative road that has bike lanes. Wide pickup trucks were too close for comfort. Lesson learned: seek dedicated bike lanes.

I packed too heavy. Around mile 13-14, I accidentally kicked my starboard bag and it fell off completely. Luckily this was the bag with clothes. I could experiment with this to find a better way to attach it, or switch to front-wheel bags. Lesson learned: pack light.

Unintentional braking is tricky to explain. I took a break during the ride, and when I parked my bike I inserted a wedge into the front brake handle to freeze the front wheel. Then, I put two earbuds in my ears to make a phone call. I kept the earbuds in when I resumed my ride, listening to a podcast.

About a mile down the road I thought: why am I struggling so much? Then I heard the brake noise. And then the thought: What the heck is wrong with my front brake? … Stupid me had forgotten to remove the wedge I had stuck in the front brake handle. Laughable! Lesson learned: double check your brakes for an enjoyable ride.

After I crested the final hill in front of the office, I coasted in towards the front door. I slowly stepped off my bike and question popped in my head: how far did I go and how long did it take? Only then I realized I had forgotten to enable Strava to track the activity. I also have a bike computer hiding somewhere which could measure speed and distance. Time to dig that out. Lesson learned: double check you started your fitness tracker.

When I went to shower off I found that I had everything I needed, except for shower shoes. Oops! This is not ideal for many reasons which I won’t get into. I have done something similar once where I forgot my towel. I think the no-towel situation is worse, maybe. Lesson learned: double check you packed shower shoes and a towel.

I realized that I really enjoy trying new things, and then looking for ways to make it more fun and convenient, through experimentation and iteration. I’ve had a lot of fun writing about this experience. Lesson learned: try new things and constantly experiment.


Reading

I’ve been enjoying a book I did not expect to get into. It is called Street Smarts by Jim Rogers. The dude has a lot of interesting stories from living in Manhattan, working on Wall Street, and moving his family to Singapore.

I’m also reading a little Mouse Book called The Blue Hotel by Stephen Crane. Crane is a a Civil War era writer who died from tuberculosis at the age of 28. Despite his short life he produced well known literary works including his well-known novel The Red Badge of Courage. He was an innovative writer in his time.


Writing

It’s been a very busy week. I did a little bit of writing. I did not publish anything since last weekend’s Weekly Update #15.


Thinking

I stopped thinking and started doing. There were plenty of reasons to not take the bike-commute plunge. I had already put it off for a month (I first mentioned the idea in Weekly Update – #13 – April 14th, 2019). I was congested with a head cold all week. The week was unusually over-scheduled. The weather was not great. The bike needed air in its tires and chain maintenance.

BUT, all that aside, it is done! And I want to make it a weekly routine.

What have you been thinking about doing for a while? When are you going to take the leap?


As always, thanks for reading, and

Have a great week!

Weekly Update – #3 – January 19th, 2019

Weekly Update – #3 – January 19th, 2019

This week was yet another exciting week. It is unusual receive several days of rain here. While we stayed safe and dry, the team still accomplished a lot. Reminder: You are part of my team.

Health & Fitness

I have relearned the same lesson many times. Health and fitness underpins everything else. To be the best you in mind and body you have to eat right and move your body. For couch potatoes and desk jockeys, making positive changes in the health & fitness area yields 10X results every other area. Negative changes compound in the wrong direction; garbage in garbage out.

This week I have not done any long, 10+ miles runs but I’ve done some short “active recovery” runs. I’m resting in preparation for my first ever half marathon race, The Pasadena Half Marathon. Early tomorrow morning I will embark on this 3 hour run, and it’s going to be so much fun. I’ll show you guys some pictures next week.

Writing

This week my blog Torrey’s Weekly Report hit a new milestone of 70 subscribers. I take time to thank every single subscriber, because what matters more than the number is the engagement and the overall impact. This is also why I don’t spam anyone or forcibly subscribe anyone. The blog achieves nothing if no one bothers to read it. The best way to make an impact is to grow a highly engaged readership.

I didn’t realize it when I started, but the blog has a potential to tear down silos. It is a blog available only internally to my company (~20,000 employees), and it is becoming a platform for sharing useful information far and wide.

In large organizations, silos naturally form in the hierarchical command structure. Information needs to be “cascaded down” but it doesn’t, it gets stuck. There’s this great parable called Silos, Politics, and Turf Wars by Patrick Lencioni if you’re interested in these kind of problems and solutions. Basically, the organization loses effectiveness because people don’t openly communicate, share information, and collaborate across imaginary boundaries. Silos.

Anyway! Torrey’s Weekly Report is a way to tear down silos. Every week, fresh and timely information goes out to a growing list of leaders in many levels of the organization. Multiple business units and roles, from support agents to recruiters to vice presidents have subscribed.

What would even cooler than seeing the blog grow would be this. Seeing someone else get inspired, seeing another blog spring up, documenting happenings in another corner of the global enterprise. Sign me up! I’ll read it.

Reading

My morning 20 pages reading habit is going strong. I finished up two books I bought last year.

Head Strong by Dave Asprey

The Battles of Tolkien by David Day

I shared a two sentence summary of Head Strong in last week’s update.

I don’t usually read fiction, and The Battles of Tolkien isn’t entirely fiction. It talks a lot about mythical warriors and battles from many human cultures. And it draws connections between the Lord of The Rings universe’s history and these ancient human myths. For example, metallurgy and sorcery are common themes as shown by the evil anti-hero Sauron in LOTR.

I’m trying to finish up a book called On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King. Again since I’m not at all excited about reading or writing fiction, this one is taking me forever to slog through. But it does hold some good general writing tips and references other good writing books like Strunk & White.

Lastly, I started a new book that’s been sitting on my kindle for a while. It’s called The 50th Law by Robert Greene and 50 Cent. So far it talks a lot about overcoming fear and about self-management. Robert Greene is great at finding examples from history to explain his points.

That’s all for this week. See you next time.

Have a great week!

What I learned from Menfluential 2018 conference

This post summarizes my attendee take aways from Menfluential Conference 2018. Antonio Centeno and Aaron Marino host the two day Menfluential event which showcases social media influencers, businessmen, fitness gurus, men’s fashionistas and men’s grooming experts.

I’ve broken down my key takeaways into categories: mindset, productivity, social media, fitness, business. Jump down to the section desired. Other topics were covered at menfluential such as fragrance, hair, but I wasn’t interested and didn’t pay attention.

If you are interested in Menfluential conference there is a similar, virtual event organized by Bill Masur called Men of Character conference. MOC includes additional topics like fatherhood and relationships.

Mindset

Starting anything new sucks. It’s painful and the results are embarrassing. You have to hang on until it starts to be fun. “In 500 years you won’t exist, in 1,000 years you won’t matter, so don’t be afraid to try something new” said Ryan Masters. Don’t wait, get started!

You have to invest in yourself and continuously learn. A $30 book or a $1000 course could give you an edge worth 10X the price tag. Once you decide learning isn’t worth it, it’s game over, you’ve lost.

Productivity

“Clear to neutral” when taking a long break from working. Tidy up your desk, close windows on your computer, close tabs on your browser. Resume work from a clean slate. Less clutter leads to clearer focus.

Social Media: YouTube, Blogging

Until you reach 10,000 subscribers, you have to bring traffic from another platform. The algorithm won’t recommend your content in the beginning, not until you have a strong audience.

Choose simple headlines like “how to do X without Y”. Don’t try to be too clever, keep it simple.

Choose photo/thumbnails that spark curiosity. Make the viewer ask a question desperately needing to be answered. Consider simple questions like: “what is going on there? Why is he making that face?”

Consistency and volume are crucial for growing an audience. Publish new content on a strict cadence (daily, weekly, monthly). Cranking up the frequency from weekly to daily resulted in exponential growth for one YouTuber.

YouTube is a platform, not a business. Most businesses don’t make money directly from content, they make money by converting viewers into customers who pay for products and services.

If you don’t have haters yet, you’re still getting started. “You could teach blind kittens to read on YouTube, and someone will have a problem with it.” says Aaron Marino.

Monetize now, not after you get subscribers. 1M subscribers multiplied by 0 profit is still 0 $$. What if the money never comes? You will have wasted a lot of time and resources for nothing.

Fitness

The added value of fitness is building toughness through voluntary hardship. You muscles and your mind grow.

Strength training is the foundation. If you’ve never been to the gym, start here, get on the “strength ladder”. After strength builds, everything else falls into place, including body fat percentage.

Focus on the big 3 (compound lifts) – bench press, squat, dead lift.Find a trainer to teach you safe technique so you don’t break your back.Strength is a better measure than the scale, because your weight may fluctuate or plateau. Measuring your fitness level by tracking the amount of weight you can lift is a satisfying way to see progress.

Business

The standout business speaker at Menfluential was Dan Lok, who wore a blazing metallic red suit. Dan Lok is known for books like FU Money and his expertise in high ticket sales. He also offers a training program called high ticket closer.

People buy their way out of problems. Look for a bleeding neck problem, one the must be solved, fast. Paint a clear picture of what will happen if your product/service is used or not used.

On solving problems… > Find a need> Fill a need> The worst that can happen is nothingFocus on the simple, avoid complexity. Complexity is an excuse for a failure. You can blame the complex stuff instead of holding yourself accountable. John D. Rockefeller, the 340 billion dollar man, got his start with boring business tasks of turkey farming and book keeping.————————

There are three types of people in your sales funnel:

  1. Freeples
  2. Sheeples
  3. Leads

Freeples have a hard drive full of free ebooks, spreadsheets, and other junk. They collect stuff and never bother to contact the business or buy products.Sheeples follow the crowd and don’t know what they want. They stay lurking in the background and never contact the business or buy products.Potential clients know what they want. They know you can help solve their problems. They contact you to ask for help. They will pay you to help solve their problems. This is the type of person that can support your business. Focus on converting these people into paying customers.


Waste less time emailing and instant messaging clients. Get potential clients on the phone. Close them on the phone. You can quickly weed out clients who aren’t serious enough to get on the phone. And, you can work out details much faster on the phone compared to back-and-forth emailing.


Thanks for reading!

Reading Roundup – Second Quarter 2017

In April, May, and June I read some great books. I want to take some time to share what I’ve learned. Enjoy!


Man’s Search For Meaning by Victor Frankl

Dr. Frankl practiced psycho-therapy and miraculously survived Nazi work camps. He studied himself and peers throughout the experience. Being in the camps is described as worse than nightmares. Accounts of atrocities committed in the camps are best not paraphrased. Go read it!

One insight taken away is: man finds meaning in love, work, and suffering. The author pulled himself through hell by frequently thinking about his wife, the love of his life.


Living with a Seal by Jesse Itzler

Jesse Itzler invited a Navy Seal to live with and train him for a month. The ensuing tale is hilarious.

Lessons learned: 

  • Mind over matter. You have more in you than you think (60% more).
  • Make big decisions by considering, after it plays out, how great telling the story will be.
  • Watch out for getting stuck on routines and call in outside help (e.g. Personal trainer) to get unstuck.
  • The human spirit is powerful, and the mind gives up before the body gives up (usually).

I discovered the book via this YouTube video.


Option B by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant

Sandberg abruptly lost her husband. She embarked on a journey to deal with own grief and in the process learned how to give better support to others overcoming tragedy.

Many of the stories in the book refer back to the three P’s of tragedy processing.

Personalization – I am the reason this happened. I failed to stop it from happening. It is my fault.

Pervasiveness – Because this happened, every part of my life is ruined.

Permanence – Life is going to be like this forever. It will never get better.

When consoling grief-stricken friends, try not to say things like “let me know if there is anything I can do”. The phrase pushes the burden of asking onto them. Instead, take action, show up at the door with a casserole. Help them through the three P’s: tragedy isn’t their fault, it won’t ruin everything, and the feelings are temporary.


Expert Secrets by Russell Brunson

The focus of Expert Secrets is how to create and sell information products, after becoming a subject matter expert. Expert Secrets has many nuggets, and I’ll share the few most memorable to me.

Status – Why People Buy Things
The reason people buy most things is to increase their status. Status means different things to different people. To some a luxury car is a status symbol, and to others a ten year old junker is a status symbol.

Big Domino Theory
Instead of trying to solve a hundred small problems, look for the biggest domino. The biggest domino, once knocked over, knocks over all the smaller ones.

The Heroes Two Journeys
Most stories follow the format of the heroes two journeys. The hero has an external goal and a more subtle internal struggle. The hero may never achieve the external goal, but while on the journey resolves the inner struggles and completes a transformation.


I also really enjoyed these works by Derek Sivers

To hone your writing, hire a translator 

I think creating less noise is a measure of emotional maturity. Optimize for action instead of talk. Do work, not just press releases.

Parenting: Who is it really for? 

A long attention span is a super power when among highly distractible masses. This reminds me of Cal Newport’s Deep Work which says a blacksmith may work a single blade for seven hours uninterrupted.

Meaningful, quality work requires an above-average attention span.

Long attention span might be a key to success. It could require a decades long focus to turn vision into reality.


Thank you for reading!

Together we build a world free of fear.  What would you do if you were not afraid?


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